“Could you help me, please?”
My friend and mentor, Joe Bonura taught me that line. It is the most effective opening to a conversation when making cold calls I have ever run across.
1. Everyone wants to help someone. We don’t like doing a “favor,” but we love to help others, even if they are total strangers.
2. It makes the person on the other end think (and say) “Yes.” Think about the last cold-call you got. You were probably thinking “No” from the moment they mispronounced your name or started a sales pitch without engaging you at all. Asking for help elicits a “Yes” from people who are usually very busy with other tasks.
3. It disarms wary executives. It allows them to be in control of the conversation in their mind and puts them in the role of assistor, not sales target.
4. It opens doors to people who otherwise would have no interest in talking with a stranger. Even in presentations when I demonstrate it, I will casually ask for a volunteer by saying, “Could you help me, please?” and in front of hundreds of people they will say “Yes” to me, a stranger.
5. It works. It allows the receptionist (or gatekeeper) to be friendly and helpful and keeps them from thinking that you are a jerk if you fumble or don’t know the person you are calling by name.
6. Bonus: It works when you have a customer service complaint to get you to the right person. They are more willing to go out of their way and help someone who asks for it, than someone who is angry and berating them.